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Do Children Remember Their Birth? My Three Year Old’s Birth, According to Her

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Growing up fast, but still remembers her first day :)

Growing up fast, but still remembers her first day 🙂

I was going to write a boring recipe post tonight on apple crumble, but as I was putting Margo to bed, she started giving me accurate details of her birth! I thought birth story by account of a three year old was more interesting than apple crumble…. fruity crumble recipe tomorrow.

I was laying in bed with Goldie in one armpit and Margo next to me in her bed, our usual bedtime arrangement. Goldie was finished feeding, but was still flopping around and kvetching (yiddish word that sort of means complaining). Margo asked for the usual, made-up bedtime story. I really pray that nobody will ever have to listen to my bedtime stories that I make up. They are so horribly boring and just… terrible! I’m so embarrassed by them, that I won’t even tell them if Art’s in the room.  Margo loves them though… Anyway, somehow the topic came up of babies in tummies, so I interrupted the story and asked Margo, ‘What did you do when you were in mommy’s tummy?.

Margo replied, ‘I just slept all the time, in the daytime and the night time  Even when it was daytime I was sleeping all the time!‘.

Me: ‘What did it look like in mommy’s tummy?’

Margo: ‘It was all red and pink.’ (Although they say that newborns are colour blind, Margo’s never seen a photo or video of a baby in a womb.. she has no picture reference of what it would have looked like in there!)

I asked, ‘Do you remember how you came out?’.

She then paused and started to get a little bit upset! She said something like, ‘I don’t want to come out of your tummy!’ She then started to cry…

Woah!’. I thought, ok, sorry chicky, I didn’t know that was going to upset you! We’ve never talked about Margo’s birth really… We’ve talked about her sister’s birth, which Margo witnessed. But, the two births were very different. Margo’s was the ironman, 36 hour labour including 3 or 4 hours of pushing, and she was very late, about 10 days late.

Anyway, so I dropped the subject, but was still just dying to know what else she remembered. I didn’t want to upset her though  Goldie was still complaining and not falling asleep in my armpit, and Margo, half asleep, did her usual, ‘Mom… I have to poo…’  Ugh, the untimely poo! So, I grabbed Goldie, who thought it was just delightful to be out of my armpit and sat down with her in my lap outside the bathroom while Margo hopped on the toilet. Margo and I have had some great conversations while she’s been sitting on the pot. This girl could seriously sit there chatting away for about 15 minutes or more, easily.

I thought I would try again and ask her what she remembered about her birth. This time was much more successful, and she really started talkingThis was our conversation, more or less:

Me: ‘Margo, tell me more about when you came out of mommy’s tummy‘.

Margo: ‘There was a tiny little hole and a big hole and I had to come out.‘ (If you know anything about female anatomy.. that is a fairly accurate description of what it’s like… I’m not sure I could have even put it in simpler terms if I was describing it to someone).

Me: ‘What was it like coming out of that hole?’.

Margo: ‘I was scared that I might fall out.  I got stuck!  I was really stuck!’. (Three hours of pushing… hello!!!)

Me: ‘Mmmhmmm…. Then what happened?’

Margo: ‘There was a really bright light, and I went way way down in the pool‘. (Margo was born in the water, and they used a big underwater torch to check her progress).

Me: ‘Yes, and then what happened?’ (I felt a bit like a shrink)

Margo: ‘You had to catch me!  I wanted you to catch me!

Me: ‘And, I caught you, right?’

Margo: ‘Yes!’

I stopped here because she was getting really emotional. I asked her things, like if she liked coming out of my tummy… she said, ‘Nope, didn’t like it‘. What I typed out is much more simple than how she was actually responding. She kept repeating herself 3 or 4 times, and really emphasized that there was ‘one tiny tiny hole and one bigger hole‘?! Lots of the terminology that she was using in her answers were words that I have never used when talking to her.

How cool! I’m not really surprised that she remembers her birth, I’ve heard that children up to the age of about 5 can remember.  I’m just glad that she has the language skills to tell me about while the memory is still sort of ‘fresh’ in her mind.  Have you ever heard about a child talk about his or her birth?

44 Responses »

  1. Wow! This story just really touches me Kate and Margot. Thanks for sharing it with us, with me. What a beauty. I remembered my birth during a Kundalini Yoga re-birthing meditation years ago and it was quite a shocking and emotional remembrance. I never know if I made it up or it was really memory. I do recognize Margot’s feeling of not wanting to come out. My experience was: I don’t wanna be here (on earth)! Sometimes still have that feeling, but then, at some point, it all made sense when I got my spiritual name which means: the angel who brings the nectar from heaven to earth. So if I liked it or not, got her to learn to bridge those two worlds 😉 Blessings to you and your family. I am grateful that we me and I get to read/witness your experiences.

    Reply
    • Birth is not exactly a pleasant experience! It’s not only physical pain, but emotional as well (old soul thinking… oh this AGAIN!). It was really hard for her to articulate some of the stuff I typed out so easily, she kept repeating herself three or four times as if she was really stuck on each event! Crazy! I’m sure you wouldn’t have made up your birth memories, if you’ve been doing sadhana for so long 🙂

      Reply
  2. Wow it doesn’t surprise me at all. Cohen has a memory like an elephant and recalls the most making stuff in detail from when he was younger (he just turned 4). He was just telling me the other day what it was like and what he was doing when he was in my tummy.

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    • It’s crazy, isn’t it?! My daughter also has the memory like an elephant! She remembers the smallest details of things that we did a couple years ago (besides the details of her birth). Makes it tough being a parent though, no trickery or bribery or distraction will work very well, because they always remember what they set out for!

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  3. What an amazing story! I’ve never heard of a child remembering their birth!

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  4. i wonder why there would be concern about not being caught!! far out…i just would have thought there would be total trust…

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  5. That is very interesting! I am so glad you shared. And what a great subjuct to discuss early with your daughter! I’m already in love with birth stories…but now thinking of hearing them from young children brings on a whole new meaning.

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  6. Good idea to ask him 🙂

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  7. My kids do not remember how they came about into this world, neither do I (gave birth to both via CS) 🙂 so this was definitely interesting 🙂
    thanks for dropping by my blog!

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  8. That’s awesome! I have asked older toddlers about breastfeeding before (they have some really great advice) but never about their births. Not shocking that she remembers it. I still remember the room in the birthing center that I was born in. It really freaked the nurses out when I asked why they changed the artwork years later on a sibling tour.

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  9. This is really cool. I’m going to share with cup of joe. hope thats ok.

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  10. WOW! This is fascinating! It never occurred to me to ask my toddler if she remembers being born. I’m a little afraid of what the answers will be. It was a scheduled c-section (no labor) because she was breech and all attempts to turn her had been unsuccessful. In short, it was a really traumatic experience for me, and I’m a bit afraid to hear her side of it. Intriguing idea…

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    • You never know what she might say 🙂 Sometimes when babies are breech and just will not budge, it’s because it’s the safest position for them…

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      • Wow, thank you. I had actually never thought of it that way. That’s really a nice thought and I hope it is true in this case. Thank you and Happy Mother’s Day!!

  11. I guess I know the older gentleman and i´ll tell him that Margo remembers her birth…
    I asked Pauly today, but all he would say was that he doesn´t fit in my tummy anymore because he is a big boy,

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  12. Wow, that’s great. I really think it’s important we talk to our kids, especially our girls, about birth and start taking the fear out of labour. I don’t remember my own birth, but I never had any fear of it while pregnant, and later talking to my Mum she said she never had any problems or drugs, just natural. And that’s how my girls came out too. I am always so sad to hear of women who go into it thinking they can’t handle it, before contractions even start, I am sure the fear makes it so much worse for them. I am going to ask my 3y old if she remembers!

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    • It’s so important for woman to be educated about birth!! I think I got lucky with my first, because I didn’t know as much, and even the second tie around, I know there are still things I could learn. But fear… is the biggest hurdle, I think.

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  13. How fun to know there are other people out there who have had similar situations with their young ones recalling their birth processes.

    When my son was two I asked what he was thinking during his birth process, and his response was “Get me out of here!” (He was 2-weeks late, a big baby and I was having a hard time delivering him – and his given response was that he was excited to come into the world. He wanted to be a part of the family. His birth process wasn’t scary for him. It was more like ‘okay, here we go.”)

    When he was three, I asked him if he remembered being born, and he was quite excited and chatty to share his story. My only regret was that I didn’t video/film his story. There were so many details – while he didn’t know somebody was cutting his umbilical cord he recalled himself saying “ouch” in baby language (crying momentarily), he recalled someone wiping his eyes, etc. and he comically ended his story with “and I made a mess.” and then smiled and laughed.

    Some people think babies don’t smile until they are months old. My son smiled numerous times in the first 24 hours of being born. In fact in his hospital baby pic – he’s smiling. And I have numerous pics from the first few weeks where he is smiling with eyes wide open. He’s always had a positive outlook in life. And a wonder-filled sense of humor!

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    • That’s so cool! Yes, I wish I had recorded our conversation too… haha, only problem it was on the toilet, not very tactful, but still! Sounds like you have a really happy go lucky kid on your hands! I agree about the smiling. My babies both smiled straight away, and I know it wasn’t gas!

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      • I don’t know how the scientific world justifies children remembering their birth situations. My son has an above average IQ, but he was tested for a “perceptual IQ” a while back and it is almost genius level. Sometimes I wonder if that’s a contributing factor to his memory recollection.

      • That’s so cool! I’ve never heard of a perceptual IQ, but it certainly makes sense!

    • I wish I’d got my son’s memory on video. I can’t even remember much about what he said (he told me when he was nearly 3). When I asked him about it a few months later he just repeated the same thing but I got the impression the first hand memory was going and he was more repeating what he had said before. He’s 6 now and has no recollection at all. He said there was lots of pressure on his head and he was being really squeezed but he was quite happy. It ties in with what happened because he was deep transverse arrest and I was pushing for a couple of hours yet he wriggled happily for the full 36 hours I was monitored and heart rate was good etc. The midwives said they’d never seen such a happy baby! (Wish I could have said the same for me!) I do regret not writing it down at the time at least. It didn’t occur to me that the memory would fade 🙁 Lovely to read of everyone else’s experiences x

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  14. I do think that it’s a fun idea to ask a child if they remember – if – their birth situation was a positive one. In other words, if the child was greeted with joy coming into the world. If their situation was a negative one, or frightening one – to have them recall that, should be handled gingerly. (I will post another comment in a bit).

    When I was having my son I was in great pain at the end. I asked one of the medics for more pain medicine, but he said – if he gave me any more – at that time – that my baby would be born depressed.

    I refused the meds, and instead traded it for (what felt like) a 6-inch episiotomy – later having to stand over the toilet to pee – for a month – due to stitches healing. (But he was well worth it!). (And of course I let him know about my feminine ‘sacrifice’, and how much he was worth it! And he teases me back saying “I was late because your body wouldn’t let me out!” lol – and that could be true, I loved being pregnant with him.)

    Long story short –

    For some people who come into the world with a feeling of depression, it could be that their mother had been given some kind of pain medicine and THAT MEDICINE got transferred to them – the baby – and therefore altered the baby’s perception – unknowingly.

    So, it could be that some people were actually excited to come into the world, but during the birthing process, the part that they remember, they were kind of “numbed out”.

    It might be a question to ask your parents if any meds were used in the process of your birth if you feel that your coming into the world was less than enthusiastic.

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  15. After my son was born the doctor had a hard time helping me release the placenta from my body. I almost had to have it surgically removed. What was discovered was that I actually – at one time during that pregnancy – was carrying 2 babies. He showed me the placenta and simply said “Sometimes that happens”. I remembered having bad morning sickness 3 months after I was pregnant – when morning sickness usually subsides – and my intuition says that that was the conception time frame of the other one. (I knew the moment I was pregnant with my birthed son.)

    I never told anyone for years. I didn’t allow myself to grieve because I was grateful for the son I had.

    I never asked my son when he was young, if he remembered having another person growing in the womb with him or if he experienced anything when I miscarried the other one. When the relationship with my husband dwindled, he found himself in a situation where he got a woman pregnant – of which they terminated it. Then several months later she got pregnant again and had a baby.

    Instead of asking my son about his feelings when I was pregnant with them, I basically told my son later on in years that that other baby with him in MY body – was his now 1/2 brother. That the 1/2 brother was meant to be with him and his father in this lifetime … just not through me. And that the next pregnancy was terminated because it wasn’t the right time for his 1/2 brother to be born.

    Giving him this information is to protect both him and his 1/2 brother. In the future, if his 1/2 brother has a birth recollection of trying and trying and trying to come into this world, my son has comforting words to his younger 1/2 sibling. “Yeah, I know all about it. It took you 3 tries to be born. But you did it, and here we are.”

    To bring up such a tender subject with my young child, I felt wasn’t the right time. Especially if he didn’t know the answer of where that baby went – and especially as I was still married to his dad at the time of his 1/2 brother’s birth. So the baby was born in my marriage – just not through me.

    I remember my son was excited to have a new baby brother – when he was younger. Then a few months later – my ex and his gal pal split up – and I watched my son experience sadness. His “baby brother” was taken away from him – after physically being born – so just by witnessing the whole process – through another physical level, both he and I could best proactively grasp the situation and have closure to our situation.

    This is now over a decade later, and my son is actually relieved that he is my only child. His 1/2 brother’s mom married my ex – years later. And while my son loves his 1/2 siblings – he is grateful to also be an only child. Especially because he has a space away from them that is all his own. “Because it’s noisy over there. And it’s quiet over here.”

    So on some level, he feels he has the best of both worlds with his parents.

    Whether my version of his 1/2 brother’s coming into this reality is true or not, we obviously don’t know. But, honestly, the kid has really bad timing. And it fits our puzzle.

    🙂

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  16. Being Born into the “Wrong Family”.

    Just like from in the womb, our first moments in this lifetime can have a great impact. My mother had 2 boys, born as “toe heads” (very fine-haired little blonde-haired boys with blue eyes).

    Her next pregnancy she miscarried, then a year later came my sister — a fully-thick haired – jet black-haired — black-eyed baby girl – to which my mother upon receiving her new born blanketed daughter said “That’s not MY baby.”

    My sister had 2 expressions throughout her life with us. “I never leave until I leave twice.” (she was always forgetting something before she finally left the house.) It always caused me to wonder if she was that miscarried baby.the year before she was born.

    Her other expression was “I never asked to be born into this family!” (And as soon as both parents had passed – she left the family.) And honestly, we don’t miss her, and I grew closer to my 2 older brothers shortly after she left the family – and we 3 are very close to this day.

    So it seems to be her purpose in this lifetime that she was born to be OUR PARENTS’ child, but not our sibling. And that’s how I explain it to my son when he sees old family photos – as he’s never met her.

    ————————————————

    My aunt had a still born baby the year I was born. It has always intrigued me as to why. Did she change her mind on purpose? Did she accidentally cause her early demise? Back then there was no ultrasound technology to see internally and problem solve – like they can today – so I’ve pondered the question for many years – and perhaps that is why I have such a fascination with this subject of what is remembered in the womb and in the birth process. Also seeing my mother have a miscarriage when I was young – left me to wondering – why did that baby come here, and where exactly did that baby go?

    My aunt and uncle tried to have a baby for years after to no avail, so then decided to adopt a child. I can still remember the excitement I felt when my new cousin was introduced to us. Many years later when his son was diagnosed with some kind of learning impairment. “He gets that from my wife’s side” he said. “No” I said, “he gets that from OUR side of the family.” My cousin looked at me as if I had forgotten he was adopted. “You’ve been with us so long OUR GENES have rubbed off on you!”

    So even though he was born to a family and perhaps has issues of abandonment from the womb of his maternal parent – he was welcomed into a family where there continues to be children adopted. And we tell them that it doesn’t matter HOW you got here – it matters that you ARE here.

    —————————————————

    Once again, thank you for having this topic. It will be interesting to see how many children of the future will be surprised that others born before them DON’T remember their birth process.

    One final thought – with my son – I often ask him “Do you have anything to clear with me?” – Sometimes he says no, sometimes he says yes and tells me what’s on his mind. Doing that helps him to keep DIS-EASE away. And as far as his 1/2 brother is concerned, one can only hope that maturity in this lifetime will give him better timing.

    Cheers!

    Reply
    • Wow, thanks for sharing these stories! I read them a few days ago and have been thinking about them! It’s all very cool and mysterious. I guess there’s no way to know for sure, but you can definitely have an idea of what’s going on! I like what you said about the birth process and how the soul wants to go through it, but the pain relief can interfere! I never thought of it that one! Just another reason why natural child birth is best! Thanks again for sharing, your little boy is very lucky to have a mother who is sensitive about such things 🙂

      Reply
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  20. This is amazing. I think I might have told Dusty his story too many times but I might try him one day to see what he says. Thanks for sharing!

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  21. My son walked into the room when I was showing our birth film to a mother-to-be. The volume was very low, and I had barely spoken a word on the film to identify myself. The view on the screen was simply a top part of a presenting baby head withdrawing turtle-like between the gloved hands of the midwife… My son was almost three. He came in, looked at the scene on the screen, and frowned, and moaned, “I couldn’t get out! I couldn’t get out!”

    He had a triple nuchal chord, and it took 30 minutes to successfully crown due to this. He knew it was his birth.

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  22. Erika Abberton

    I don’t know if you are checking this since it was posted 2 years ago but I had to respond! I just did a Google search because my 2.5 year old started talking about the doc that delivered him and I was blown away! I wanted to see if anyone else had experienced the same thing. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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